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Boston Tea Party

December 16, 1773

Boston Tea Party - revolutionary War

Colonists disguised as Mohawk Indians dumped 342 chests of English tea in to Boston Harbor

The Destruction of Tea at Boston Harbor. 1773.
Copy of lithograph
by Sarony & Major, 1846.


The able Doctor, or America Swallowing the Bitter Draught. Illustrates the aftermath of the Boston Tea Party-the Boston Port Bill and the closing of the port. Copy of engraving by Paul Revere, June 1774.


BOSTON, December 1, 1773

At a MEETING of the PEOPLE of Boston, and the neighboring Towns, at Faneuil Hall, in said Boston, on Monday, the 29th of November, 1773, Nine O'Clock, A.M. and continued by Adjournment to the next Day, for the Purpose of consulting, advising, and determining upon the most proper and effectual Method to prevent the unloading, receiving or vending the DETESTABLE TEA, sent out by the East India Company, Part of which being just arrived in our Harbor

IN order to proceed with due Regularity, it was moved that a Moderator be chosen, and JONATHAN WILLIAMS, Esq; was then chosen Moderator of the Meeting. A MOTION was made that, at the Town of Boston had determined at a late Meeting, legally assembled, that they would, to the utmost of their Power, prevent the Landing of the Tea, the Question be put, Whether this Body are absolutely determined that the Tea, now arrived in Captain Hall, shall be returned to the Place from whence it came at all Events? And the Question being put, it passed in the Affirmative, Nem. Con.

It appearing that the Hall could not contain all the People assembled, it was voted, that the Meeting be immediately adjourned to the Old South Meeting House, Leave having been obtained for that Purpose.

The People met at the Old South, according to Adjournment.

A Motion was made, and the Question put, viz. Whether it is the firm Resolution of this Body, that the Tea shall not only be sent back, but that no Duty shall be paid thereon? and passed in the Affirmative, Nem. Con.

It was moved that, in order to give Time to the Consignees to consider and deliberate, before they send in their Proposals to this Body, as they had given Reason to expect would have been done at the Opening of the Meeting, there might be an Adjournment to Three O'Clock, P.M. and the Meeting was accordingly for that Purpose adjourned.

THREE oOClock, P.M. met according to Adjournment. A Motion was made, Whether the Tea, now arrived in Captain Hall Ship, shall be sent back in the same Bottom? Passed in the Affirmative, Nem. Con.

Mr. Rotch, the Owner of the Vessel, being present, informed the Body, that he should enter his Protest against their Proceedings

It was then moved and voted, Nem. Con. That Mr. Rotch be directed not to enter this Tea; and that the doing of it would be at his Peril.

Also voted, That Captain Hall, the Master of the Ship, be informed, that, at his Peril, he is not to suffer any of the Tea, brought by him, to be landed.

A Motion was made, That in order for the Security of Captain Hall Ship and Cargo, a Watch may be appointed --- and it was voted, that a Watch may be accordingly appointed, to consist of 25 Men.

Captain Edward Proctor was appointed by the Body to be the Captain of the Watch for this Night, and the Names were given in to the Moderator of the Townsmen who were Volunteers on the Occasion.

It having been observed to the Body, that Governor Hutchinson had required the Justices of the Peace in this Town to meet, and use their Endeavors to suppress any Routs or Riots. &c. of the People that might happen --- It was moved, and the Question put --- Whether it be not the Sense of this Meeting, that the Governor Conduct herein carries a designed Reflection upon the People here met, and is solely calculated to serve the Views of Administration --- Passed in the Affirmative, Nem. Con.

The People being informed by Colonel Hancock, that Mr. Copley, Son-in-law to Mr. Clarke, sen. had acquainted him, that the Tea Consignees did not receive their Letters from London till last Evening, and were so dispersed, that they could not have a joint Meeting early enough to make their Proposals at the Time intended, and therefore were desirous of a further Space for that Purpose.

The Meeting, out of great Tenderness to these Persons, and from a strong Desire to bring this Matter to a Conclusion, notwithstanding the Time they had hitherto expended upon them to no Purpose, were prevailed upon to adjourn to the next Morning Nine O'Clock.

Tuesday Morning, Nine O'Clock,

Met according to Adjournment.

The long expected Proposals were at length brought into the Meeting, not directed to the Moderator, but to John Scollay, Esq; one of the Selectmen --- It was, however, voted, that the same should be read, and they are as follow, viz,

Monday, November 29, 1773.


WE are sorry that we could not return to the Town satisfactory Answers to their two late Messages to us, respecting the Teas; we beg Leave to acquaint the Gentlemen Selectmen, that we have since received our Orders from the Honourable East India Company.

We still retain a Disposition to do all in our Power to give Satisfaction to the Town; but as we understood from you, and the other Gentlemen, Selectmen, at Messrs. Clarkes Interview with you last Saturday, that this can be effected by nothing less than our sending back the Teas, we beg Leave to say, that this is utterly out of our Power to do, but we do now declare to your our Readiness to store the Teas, until we shall have Opportunity of writing to our Constituents, and shall receive their further Orders respecting them; and we do most sincerely wish, that the Town, considering the unexpected Difficulties devolved upon us, will be satisfied with what we now offer.

We are, Sir, Your most humble Servants,


John Scollay, Esq;

Mr. Sheriff Greenleaf came into the Meeting, and begged Leave of the Moderator, that a Letter he had received from the Governor, requiring him to read a Proclamation to the People here assembled, might be read; and it was accordingly read.

Whereupon it was moved, and the Question put, Whether the Sheriff should be permitted to read the Proclamation, -- - which passed in the Affirmative, Nem. Con.

The Proclamation is as follows, viz.

Massachusetts Bay. By the Governor
To JONATHAN WILLIAMS, Esq; acting as Moderator of an Assembly of People in the Town of Boston, and to the People so assembled: 

WHEREAS printed Notifications were on Monday, the 29th instant, posted in divers Places in the Town of Boston, and published in the Newspapers of that Day, calling upon the People to assemble together, for certain unlawful Purposes, in such Notifications mentioned: And whereas great Numbers of People belonging to the Town of Boston, and divers others, belonging to several other Towns in the Province, did assemble in the said Town of Boston, on the said Day, and did then and there proceed to chose a Moderator, and to consult, debate and resolve, upon Ways and Means for carrying such unlawful Purposes into Execution; openly violating, defying and setting at naught the good and wholesome Laws of the Province, and the Constitution of Government under which they live: And whereas the People thus assembled did vote or agree to adjourn or continue their Meeting to this the 30th Instant, and great Numbers of them are again met or assembled together for the like Purposes in the said Town of Boston.

In Faithfulness to my Trust, and as his Majesty Representative within the Province, I am bound to hear Testimony against this Violation of the Laws, and I warn, exhort and require you, and each of you, thus unlawfully assembled, forthwith to disperse, and to surcease all further unlawful Proceedings, at your utmost Peril.

GIVEN under my Hand, at Milton, in the Province aforesaid, the Thirtieth Day of November, 1773, and in the Fourteenth Year of his Majesty Reign. By his Excellency


And the same being read by the Sheriff, there was immediately after a loud and very general Hiss.

A Motion was then made, and the Question put, Whether the Assembly would disperse and surcease all further Proceedings, according to the GovernorRequirement. - It was passed in the Negative, Nem. Con.

A Proposal of Mr. Copley was made, That in case he could prevail with Messrs. Clarkes to come into this meeting, the Question might now be put, Whether they should be treated with Civility while in the meeting, though they might be of different Sentiments with this Body, and their Persons be safe until their Return to the Place from whence they should come - And the Question being accordingly put, passed in the Affirmative, Nem. Con.

Another Motion of Mr. Copleywas put, Whether two Hours shall be given him, which also passed in the Affirmative.

Adjourned to Two o'Clock, P. M.

TWO o'Clock, P. M. met according to Adjournment. A Motion was made and passed, that Mr. Rotch, and Capt. Hall, be desired to give their Attendance.

Mr. Rotch appeared, and upon Motion made, the Question was put, Whether it is the firm Resolution of this Body, that the Tea, brought by Capt. Hall, shall be returned by Mr. Rotch, to England in the Bottom in which it came; and whether they accordingly now require the same which passed in the Affirmative, Nem. Con.

Mr. Rotch then informed the meeting, that he should protest against the whole Proceedings as he had done against the Proceedings on yesterday, but that though the returning the Tea is an involuntary Act in him, he yet considers himself as under a Necessity to do it, and shall therefore comply with the Requirement of this Body.

Captain hall being present was forbid to aid or assist in unloading the Tea at his Peril, and ordered that if he continues Master of the Vessel, he carry the same back to London; who replied he should comply with their Requirements.

Upon Motion, Resolved, That John Rowe, Esq; Owner of Part of Captain BruceShip, expected with Tea, as also Mr. Timmins, Factor for Captain Coffin Brig, be desired to attend.

Mr. Ezekiel Cheever was appointed Captain of the Watch for this Night, and a sufficient number of Volunteers gave in their Names for that Service. VOTED, That the Captain of this Watch be desired to make out a List of the Watch for the next Night, and so each Captain of the Watch for the following Nights, until the Vessels leave the harbor.

Upon a Motion made, Voted, That in case it should happen that the Watch should be any Ways molested in the Night, while on Duty, they give the Alarm to the Inhabitants by the Tolling of the Bells - and that if any Thing happens in the Day Time, the Alarm be by ringing of the Bells.

VOTED, That six Persons be appointed to be in Readiness to give due Notice to the Country Towns, when they shall be required so to do, upon any important Occasion. And six Persons were accordingly chosen for that Purpose.

John Row, Esq; attended, and was informed that Mr. Rotch had engaged, that his Vessel should carry back the Tea she brought in the same Bottom, and that it was the Expectation of this Body, that he does the same by the Tea expected in Capt. Bruce; whereupon he replied, that the Ship was under the Care of the said master, but that he would use his utmost Endeavor, that it should go back as required by this Body, and that he would give immediate Advice of the Arrival of said Ship.

VOTED, That it is the Sense of this Body that Captain Bruce shall, on his Arrival, strictly conform to the Votes passed respecting Captain Hall Vessel, as though they had been all passed in Reference to Captain Bruce Ship.

Mr. Timmins appeared, and informed that Captain Coffin Brig, expected with Tea, was owned in Nantucket; he gave his Word of Honor that no Tea should be landed, while she was under his Care, nor touched by any one until the Owner Arrival.

It was then Voted, That what Mr. Rowe and Mr. Timmins had offered, was satisfactory to the Body.

Mr. Copley returned and acquainted the Body, that as he had been obliged to go to the Castle, he hoped that if he had exceeded the Time allowed him, they would consider the Difficulty of a Passage by Water at this Season as his Apology: He then further acquainted the Body, that he had seen all the Consignees, and though he had convinced them that they might attend this Meeting with Safely, and had used his utmost Endeavors to prevail upon them to give Satisfaction to the Body, they acquainted him, that believing nothing would be satisfactory, short of re- shipping the Tea, which was out of their Power, they thought it best not to appear, but would renew their Proposal of storing the Tea, and submitting the same to the Inspection of a Committee, and that they could go no further, without incurring their own Ruin; but as they had not been active in introducing the Tea, they should do nothing to obstruct the People in their Procedure with the same.

It was then moved, and the Question put, Whether the Return, made by Mr. Copley, from the Consignees, be in the least Degree satisfactory to this Body, and passed in the negative, Nem. Con.

Whereas a Number of Merchants in this Province have inadvertently imported Tea from Great Britain, while it is subject to the Payment of a Duty, imposed upon it by an Act of the British Parliament for the Purpose of raising a Revenue in America, and appropriating the same without the Consent of those who are required to pay it.

RESOLVED, That in thus importing said Tea, they have justly incurred the Displeasure of our Brethren in the other Colonies.

And Resolved further, That if any Person or Persons shall hereafter import Tea from Great Britain, or if any Master or masters of any Vessel or Vessels in Great Britain shall take the same on board, to be imported to this Place, until the said unrighteous Act shall be repealed, he or they shall be deemed, by this Body, an Enemy to his Country; and we will prevent the landing and Sale of the same and the Payment of any Duty thereon. And we will effect the Return thereof to the Place from whence it shall come.

RESOLVED, That the foregoing Vote be printed, and sent to England, and all the Seaports in this Province.

Upon a Motion made, voted, That fair Copies be taken of the whole Proceedings of this meeting, and transmitted to New York and Philadelphia, And that


Be a Committee to transmit the same.

VOTED, That it is the Determination of this Body to carry their Votes and Resolutions into Execution, at the Risque of their Lives and Property.

VOTED, That the Committee of Correspondence for this Town be desired to take Care, that every other Vessel with Tea, that arrives in this harbor, has a proper Watch appointed for her - Also voted, that those Persons, who are desirous of making a Part of these nightly Watches, be desired to give in their names at Messrs. Edes and Gill Printing Office.

VOTED, That our Brethren in the Country be desired to afford their Assistance upon the first Notice given; especially if such Notice be given upon the Arrival of Captain Loring, in Messieurs Clarke Brigantine.

VOTED, That those of this Body, who belong to the Town of Boston, do return their Thanks to their Brethren, who have come from the neighboring Towns, for their Countenance and union with this Body in this Exigence of our Affairs.

VOTED, That the Thanks of this meeting be given to JONATHAN WILLIAMS, Esq; for his good Services as Moderator.

VOTED, That his Meeting be dissolved - And it was accordingly dissolved.

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